Your Body in Balance
- Department of:
- Adena Regional Medical Center
The thyroid may be tiny but it is mighty. This tiny gland at the base of your neck produces hormones that control your metabolism, which includes how fast your heart beats and how fast your body burns calories. If these important functions get off kilter in either direction, it can cause a constellation of symptoms.
About 5 percent of the U.S. population over age 12 has a problem with their thyroids. That number rises to 20 percent of women over age 65. While most conditions aren’t serious, a misbehaving thyroid is always something you want to have monitored or treated by your physician.
At Adena, we treat all types of thyroid conditions including thyroid cancer. If you are experiencing symptoms of a thyroid problem, your doctor will order a test to check thyroid health and function. Adena provides these thyroid screenings:
- A blood test to check levels of TSH, or thyroid-stimulating hormone, to see if your thyroid is under or overactive. Follow-up tests to determine specific T3 and T4 levels in the blood can help doctors diagnose specific conditions.
- A radioactive iodine uptake test, where you swallow a capsule or liquid containing a small amount of radioiodine. The substance will collect in your thyroid and physicians can measure how much is present to evaluate if the thyroid is functioning properly.
- If you have a thyroid nodule, a thyroid scan, fine-needle biopsy, or ultrasound may be used to determine its size and to see if the nodule is cancerous.
Detecting a Thyroid Problem
The thyroid can be underactive or overactive, which means it is either producing too much or too little thyroid hormones. Symptoms of a thyroid problem often are caused by other health problems so it’s important that you work with your physician to get a proper diagnosis. Symptoms are different depending on whether your thyroid is underactive or overactive.
Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is the result of not enough thyroid hormones being produced. It slows your metabolism and you might experience symptoms such as:
- weight gain
- increased sensitivity to cold
Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, is the result of too much thyroid hormone production. A too-fast metabolism can cause symptoms such as:
- weight loss
- rapid or irregular heartbeat
- increased appetite
- anxiety or irritability
- trouble sleeping
- increased sensitivity to heat
- increased sweating
Thyroid problems can be caused by autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s disease and Grave’s disease, thyroiditis (inflammation), thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer.
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